The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Graduate Studies

With a distinguished faculty of scholars and writers, a diverse and energetic cohort of graduate students, a rich array of resources in the Five College community, and a commitment to job placement and professionalization, the Graduate Studies Program at the Department of English draws outstanding students from every state and from around the world. We place a high value on diversity, actively recruit and support minority applicants, and work hard to create an environment in which all colleagues are supported and treated with respect.

Degrees Offered

Within the PhD, we also offer focused areas of study in

Areas of strength

  • African American literature
  • American Studies
  • Colonial, Post-Colonial, and Transnational Studies
  • Composition and Rhetoric
  • Early Modern and Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies
  • Native American Studies
  • Popular culture  


Our graduate faculty is committed to both research and teaching. We believe that the faculty of a first-rate graduate program must contribute actively and visibly to their fields if they are to provide graduate students with the knowledge, skills, and resources demanded by the profession today.

Award winning: Our faculty have been winners of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Jewish Book Award, and have won distinction as holders of ACLS, Bunting, Fulbright, Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Woodrow Wilson Fellowships.

Professionally active: We have served the profession as the editors or contributing editors of such publications as Melus, ELR, Boston Review, Sidney Journal, Old English Newsletter, Journal X, and Theater Topics, and as the officers of numerous organizations, including the National Council of Teachers of English and the New England American Studies Association.

Public minded: In addition, our department has a long-standing tradition of commitment to public service and outreach, providing community-based internships for our graduate students and founding such programs as the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. We believe that a faculty with these varied kinds of professional distinction can offer graduate students an exceptionally broad array of professional interests, resources, and contacts.

Student Community

Our students hail from all over the United States and around the world, and they are wonderfully diverse with respect to age, race, sexual orientation, and professional interests. They regularly present papers at both regional and national conferences, and many leave with at least one publication at the time of their doctorate. Our students also

  • compete successfully for University Fellowships, national fellowships, and the university’s distinguished teaching awards,
  • play an active role in program policy and governance,
  • organize an annual conference, and
  • hold leadership positions in the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO). 

Visit the English Graduate Organization website for important information, upcoming events, and resources available to you.

Studying in the Pioneer Valley

The Five College community and the surrounding areas have much to offer in terms of both cultural and scholarly resources.  The Five College Library Special Collections includes important book and manuscript materials on women’s history and the history of women’s education, the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois, and the papers and correspondence of such authors as Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Harvey Swados, Sylvia Plath, William Carlos Williams, and Wallace Stevens among many others. Within easy striking distance too, are the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, and the libraries of Harvard and Yale Universities. 

Poetry Series

Through ongoing poetry series at UMass, Smith, and Mount Holyoke Colleges, many poets come each year to give readings – including recently Seamus Heaney, Czeslaw Milocz, Ntozake Shange, and Jorie Graham – and our own Martin Espada and Dara Weir.